In the final stages of John Durham’s trial against Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko, special counsel took aim at FBI.
The trial’s closing arguments were concluded Monday afternoon and the jury is currently deliberating. Durham addressed the “elephant” in the room at the trial and stated that he believed that the FBI had bungled its Trump-Russia investigation, but that the bureau still has to consider the lies about Christopher Steele’s dossier.
Durham stated that the FBI “mishandled the investigation at question” and that the FBI “didn’t do what it should have done”. He also said that the jury didn’t have to feel sorry for the FBI agents and stressed that the FBI’s special counsel team was not present to defend their handling of the dossier.
The special counsel offered other options regarding the FBI’s failure to investigate Trump-Russia, asking rhetorically if the FBI was “simply incapable,” “working in coordination,” or “or whatever.”
According to the trial, Danchenko was on FBI’s payroll from March 2017 to Oct 2020 as a confidential source human source. He was then charged with five counts each of making false statements to bureau in November 2021. He has pleaded guilty.
Durham claims that Danchenko anonymously obtained a fabrication about Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort from Charles Dolan. Dolan is a Clinton ally who spent many years working for Russian companies and the Russian government. Before the jury could make a decision, the judge dismissed that charge.
Indictment against Durham also states that Danchenko lied about a call he claimed he received from someone he believed to be Sergei Millian. This is a Belarusian citizen and businessman who Steele sources had said told him about an elaborate conspiracy of cooperation between Donald Trump and the Russians. The special counsel claims this is false.
In January 2017, Danchenko was granted partial immunity by the Justice Department. According to the immunity agreement, Danchenko had to give “true and complete testimony”. According to the agreement, Danchenko had to answer all questions concerning the subject matter of the investigation and not withhold any information. Danchenko was also not allowed to “falsely indict anyone” or attempt to shield and protect anyone. Durham stated that the agreement would be null if Danchenko lies, as the special counsel has confirmed.
Brian Auten, an FBI supervisory intelligence analyst, testified last week. He was one of the FBI agents that interviewed Danchenko back in January 2017. Steele was offered a $1 million incentive by the FBI if he can prove the allegations in his dossier. However, the FBI analyst stated that the former MI6 agent could not confirm the claims.
Kevin Helson, the FBI agent who handled Danchenko’s dossier, testified that the source of the dossier went on to be a crucial part of the FBI’s efforts to counter Russian influence in the U.S. despite never being capable of corroborate any of it.
Helson requested that Danchenko be paid a lump sum in October 2020. His testimony showed that this would have increased the amount the bureau had paid the Russian lawyer over the years to $546,000. The request for a lump-sum payment was denied.
According to testimony from the FBI’s Human Intelligence Validation Unit, Danchenko was also mentioned by a member. Durham also highlighted the fact that Helson did not conduct proper research into the background of the Russian analyst before signing him up for confidential human sources.